Transmission electron microscopy and standard chemiluminescence assays were used to investigate the in vivo effect of dichloromethylene bisphosphonate (clodronate) on the phagocytosis of pure hydroxyapatite particles by rat peritoneal macrophages and the production of chemiluminescence by the peritoneal exudate cells. Hydroxyapatite (control) and a hydroxyapatite/clodronate suspension (28 mumol clodronate per gram of hydroxyapatite, experimental) were injected into the peritoneum of rats, the clodronate dose being 10 micrograms/kg. Macrophages were harvested at 12, 24, 48, and 96 hours after injection and the particle phagocytosis was assessed by transmission electron microscopy. Hydroxyapatite alone was completely phagocytosed by 24 hours and hydroxyapatite reacted with clodronate was completely phagocytosed by 48 hours. From 48 hours onwards hydroxyapatite particle dissolution was observed in the phagosomes of cells in the two groups. At 48 hours the chemiluminescence produced by the peritoneal exudate cells was also measured. Clodronate and clodronate/hydroxyapatite enhanced cell activity on subsequent challenge with phorbol myristate acetate or zymosan. Clodronate seemed to exhibit an inhibitory effect on the phagocytic activity and an enhancement of the chemiluminescence production by the cells in this model, indicating that it was modifying the inflammatory cell response.
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